US Senate Votes to Block EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Barbara Hollingsworth | November 18, 2015 | 1:28pm EST
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(AP photo)

( – The U.S. Senate passed two resolutions on Tuesday to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing its Clean Power Plan (CPP), the centerpiece of President Obama’s “historic” attempt to reduce carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030.

Senate Joint Resolution 23, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) with 47 co-sponsors, stated that “Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to ‘Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units’”.

The Senate also passed a resolution of disapproval sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) stating that the CPP “shall have no force or effect.” The House is expected to pass a similar measure.

The resolutions, which were both approved 52 to 46, were introduced under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to disapprove regulations that have an economic impact of more than $100 million.

Three Democratic senators - Joe Donnelly (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), and Joe Manchin (WV) - joined the Republican majority in support of the resolutions.

Three Republican senators - Kelly Ayotte (NH), Susan Collins (ME) and Mark Kirk (IL) - voted against them.

Republican presidential candidates Lindsey Graham (SC) and Marco Rubio (FL) did not vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (AP photo)

“These regulations make it clearer than ever that the president and his administration have gone too far, and that Congress should act to stop this regulatory assault,” Sen. McConnell (R-KY) said.

“EPA’s regulations fail to consider the livelihoods of countless American families and communities who cannot afford fewer jobs and higher energy prices,” Sen. Capito noted.

But Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) called the measures “a big exercise in time-wasting” meant to “send a signal to the big coal interests, the big oil interests, the Koch brothers, the Tea Partiers, ‘We’re with ya’,”.

The Senate’s rebuke of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan came just weeks before members of the Obama administration are scheduled to attend a major United Nations' climate change summit in Paris starting later this month and adopt policies a future president would have to implement.

Proponents of the resolutions say that even though Obama has threatened to veto them, their passage will make it much more difficult for the administration to negotiate a binding agreement in Paris.

“The entire deal is blown if Congress first votes down the CPP rules – the key component of Obama’s planned promise in Paris – under the Congressional Review Act (CRA),” predicted Chris Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

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